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Contents Page: Jan 1, 2012, vol 7 no 4

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Roger Jones

Canoeing the Buffalo River, Arkansas

A long day ferrying back and forth on the river route, unloading the boats and gear, driving the car back to our final destination, then back to the put-in point at the river bend.

A solid gray-black cliff across from where we set out. It rises maybe two hundred feet straight up.

It's late by the time we make it onto the water. We have an hour or so to canoe downstream. Then we have to pull up, throw up our tents on shore and settle for our first night on a sandbar. Dinner. Then coffee from a kettle.

In the dark, we hear the rapids a quarter mile or so away – where we will be tomorrow. The November night air is black, chilly, imposing. One tiny vapor light shines down from a bluff across the river, maybe a quarter of a mile uphill from us. One solitary farmhouse. Otherwise, just stars. Chris plays his guitar. We all tell jokes, ghosts stories. But this time of year, it's hard for me not to think of winter, the cold, and, those no longer with us, no longer here to share the laughter.

rushing water
tossing fish bones
into the camp fire

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